I've said it before… you truly cannot be an organized human being if you don't have a good calendar system. And when you are also trying to manage the schedule for your entire family? It's a gajillion more times important that you are using a great calendar that works for you! So if you having been pondering a move to a new calendar system- let me show you the 7 Best Calendars That Work for Families!
Electronic Calendars That Work for Families:
One of the great things about electronic calendars is that they can be synced, so you can have your calendar on your smart phone, your tablet, your laptop, and it can sync to your husband’s electronic calendar and your kids’ calendars too. So no matter where you are- you can easily look up and see what your current appointments are for any given day. And the important people in your life can know the latest schedule and commitments too- without coming home and consulting the kitchen wall.
The other great thing about electronic over a paper calendar is that you always have a backup copy. Since it syncs to your myriad of devices as well as to “the cloud”, a copy is available to you even if you were to lose your smart phone or tablet. You can’t say that about a paper calendar… if you happen to leave it behind somewhere- you are in big trouble!
1. iCal/iCloud Calendar
If you are lucky enough to own a Mac (or if you are considering purchasing one), all of the email, address book, and calendar software already comes with it- and it all is designed to work together right from the get-go. And it all syncs up to your iPhone and iPad too- so it is easy to take all of your information with you on the go. The calendar software is called iCal (or these days it is also known as iCloud Calendar)- and it is just such a powerful calendar tool- I think it is truly the best one available.
It has all of the important features of an electronic calendar:
- It allows for multiple color-coded calendars- I have separate calendars set up for: Family Calendar, Weekly Tasks, To Do Lists, Menu Plans, and even for my Blog Calendar!
- I can set up recurring events easily
- I can notify people of any events that I wish to coordinate with them
- It syncs to iCloud, all of my devices, and syncs well with Google calendar too. This makes it easy to sync with my husband and kids.
But what really sets iCal apart from other electronics calendars are the great print-outs!
- I can get a great monthly print out to keep in a binder if I'd like, and best of all- I can print my weekly view as a list which I place on a clipboard and work from each week.
Now you don't have to have a desktop/laptop Mac to use iCal. You can create and manage your iCal calendar from your iPad or iPhone. I just happen to like to see it on a larger screen when working on my schedule.
Note: Not a Mac user? Windows has a similar calendar system (Microsoft Outlook) that works on Windows desktops/laptops and syncs nicely to Windows phones and tablets. It also syncs well to Google Calendar. But Outlook and iCal don't like to play in the same sandbox- so be aware that it is not easy to get them to sync with one another.
2. Google Calendar
Google calendar is probably one of the most widely used family calendars because most people are quite familiar with Google, it is free with your Google account and already handily displays on the menu bar if you are using Gmail. It also syncs nicely with other calendars that you or your signifiant other might be using at the office such as Microsoft Outlook and iCal. You can notify others of events that you wish to schedule with them, and you can easily set up recurring appointments which makes adding in the season's soccer practices easy-peasy.
For me the big drawback with Google calendar are the limited printing options. I just can't get that weekly list view that I love from Google calendar.
If you are looking for a calendar that is specifically designed with families in mind, and works really well on a small screen (like a smartphone)- then Famjama might be just what you are looking for. It's an app that multiple users can access and sync with. You can use one section to keep your to-do lists and then assign items to various family members. You can add your shopping list to the app (and then send your husband out to buy everything on it!). You can send out message blasts to the family right from the app. It has a lot of bells and whistles that allows you to coordinate and manage your family's commitments and appointments.
But the drawback to Famjama, is that it doesn't yet sync with Google Calendars. So if your spouse and kids are already keeping their own calendars in Google- you are out of luck getting this calendar to sync to theirs.
4. About One
About One is more than just a family calendar- it is a whole family organizing system. You can keep track of your home records such as maintenance/repairs and insurance information. You can track all of the kids (and your own!) medical information- past illnesses, blood type, vaccinations, and follow up information. You can upload as many files as you'd like- paperwork, photos, receipts, etc. Information is stored online and can be accessed from your desktop and mobile device.
The app itself is free- but you pay a fee based on how much data you are storing in their system- it's free up to 1GB of data, and costs $20-$99/year for larger data storage volumes.
It syncs to Google calendar- but not to iCal or Outlook.
Cozi is one of the more popular free software programs designed with families in mind. It features the ability to keep multiple calendars, allows you to make to-do lists and grocery lists, provides several options for printing the calendar (which is a great feature), and even gives you a place to keep a family journal.
You can import/export a Cozi calendar to Google- but it is not a 2-way sync, which means that you'll only have Read-Only version of your Cozi calendar in Google- you won't be able to make changes to that calendar within Google.
Wall Calendars That Work for Families:
6. Amy Knapp Big Grid Family Organizer
If you are a die hard wall calendar person because you need to see everything posted in one place where the entire family can gaze at it over breakfast- then check out the Amy Knapp's Big Grid Family Organizer (*Amazon affiliate link). With plenty of space on every date to fill in appointments, this calendar also provides a space for menu planning, and comes with a Monthly Projects section that is pre-loaded with such gems as “Talk to your kids about their Halloween costume” (in August!), and “Check in on your resolutions” (in February!). There are lots of color coded stickers you can use to call out special events such as birthdays and family vacations. This calendar is packed with good ideas that a family can really use.
Portable Paper Calendars That Work for Families:
7. Mom Planner Agenda
And if you just aren't ready to move to an electronic calendar system, but love the portability of an agenda-style family calendar- the Mom Planner Agenda (*Amazon affiliate link) has some very nice features. It includes both a monthly and a weekly calendar as well as a seasonal master planning guide (so you can easily see how all of those after-school practices are going to line up). There's a section on the side where you can write lists- and it is perforated so you can easily tear them out to use them.
What Do You Use?
I would love to hear from you now… how successful are you in using a family calendar to keep track of all of your family’s appointments and commitments in one spot? Do you have a system that you love, or are you still searching for the one that is right for you? Did this list help you to do that? Please leave a comment and tell us!